So before I starting bloggin my recovery journey, I felt I needed to share my story.
It's in no way dramatic or shocking, in that way I was probably very lucky, but all the same, it's MY story of my undiagnosed eating disorder and it when I wrote it two nights ago, it really helped me to understand what had been going on with my body and my mind when I hadn't realized it myself.
I remember when I was about 8 years old I watched a documentary on anorexia with my Mum. I can remember not only being shocked about the weight of the women or the little they ate, but about the fact that someone could really hate their own body so much.
I've been running since I was 7 years old, I was always one of those skinny kids with amazing muscly but super skinny legs. I didn't have an issue with my body, I can't even remember thinking about it actually. Then as I grew up, my body changed, I wasn't that skinny little girl anymore, I developed 'curves' and because I was naturally a lot more muscly than some of the other girls I ran against, my thighs weren't as thin as theirs. Just before I turned 14 I ran at my first national championships, I couldn't help but notice that in the photos the photographers took, I wasn't as thin as the other girls and for the first time in my life I was ashamed of it. Mum made a comment on needing to watch my weight, not that I needed to loose it but of course that was how I took it. I remember after she went to bed that night, I stayed up and cried, maybe if I was skinnier I would have done better than 10th place, even though at the time I was extremely proud of myself.
So I decided I would eat 'healthy', I was wearing crop tops and sports nicks at all competitions and I didn't want to feel embarrassed about my body. But I was growing into a women, I couldn't stop putting on weight, something that's actually natural at that age. My 2nd nationals were shortly after I turned 14, I came 5th in the whole country and I was so excited. Running meant everything to me and I would do anything to improve my times and performances.
That winter in the off season, I gained more weight, I weighed about 56kg at 5'2" and I hated it. No one said anything to me, but I could tell they too thought I needed to loose weight. One day, I decided I'd had enough and started to eat super healthily, I downloaded one of those calorie counter food diaries on my iPod and began to use it. It didn't last long though, I learnt how many calories were in which foods really quickly and counted them in my head. To start with, my average calorie intake was about 1300 a day, I was pretty much dieting, I'd go without things my friends would have and when Mum and my little brother ate fish and chips for tea every Friday night, I'd cook myself my own tea.
Gradually, I began cutting out snacks. Then as summer came again and I was home for the holidays, I'd live off a small meal for lunch, like soup and then dinner. Mum didn't know, she was at work all day.
I was down to 51kg, in about six months I'd lost 5kg, hardly a huge amount but then again, it was nearly 10% of my body weight. I was so proud of myself, I felt like I fit in a little bit more with the other girls I ran against. However I wasnt running well at all, instead of my usual 59 second 400s, I was running 62s and no one could figure out why. I lost all confidence in myself, a vital thing for competing athletes and couldn't break the time barrier. I was training 4 times week with my coach, competed locally on saturdays and on the other 2 days either went to the pool or a fast 3.2km run. Eventually, my determination got me through and I ran a time just under my pb, I went to nationals again and ran an amazing time in the heat, a huge pb, qualifying me 6th fastest for the final. The final however was a shocking race, I ran a terrible time and ended up coming 8th, I was happy with myself but I knew I should have done better, I ALWAYS ran a better final than the heat and I couldn't figure out why I didn't at the most important race in my sport 'career' so far.
The day after I got back from nationals I got gastro, I knew it was my bodies was of saying 'Ok, the seasons over, I've had enough.' but unfortunately then I didn't understand the other message it was trying to send me. I lost another 2kg in about 2 days and although I did put 1kg back on when I got better, I had seen the 48kg on the scales and wanted to see it again. Again, I fasted all day and only ate my meal at night, weekdays were my 'eating days' where I'd eat at school so Mum would never know, weekends I starved myself all day and only ate whatever meal Mum cooked that night, a low calorie one that I'd suggested. I remember getting home from school one day and feeling like someone had taken control of my mind as I looked at myself in the mirror with hatred. That was the first time I purged.
Purging became a regular thing, I'd keep an empty drink bottle or tuppaware container under my bed and at night when mum had gone to bed, I'd empty whatever I had basically regurgitated effortlessly into the toilet. A few times Mum asked me whether I had been sick in the toilet,but I brushed it off, blaming it on my acid reflux.
I reached my lowest weight of 47kg and had a BMI of 18.3, only just medically underweight but if you took my muscle etc into account, I wasn't in a good way. My ribs were showing and I took pride in my hip bones.
I stopped drinking as much at training because the water made the number on the scales go up and didn't drink when I was at home. I was dizzy all the time and fainted while I was home alone.
I was so tired and weak all the time and my Mum and coach knew something was wrong. One day at training my coach pulled me aside and said to me, 'I care about you and you've never looked better but I need you to be honest to me, is there something going on that I should know about?'
I HATED lying to him, but tried to convince him I was fine, I dont think he believed it because he told me he and Mum were always there if I needed to talk and if I wanted I could 'drop hints' to him. I rejoined my training partners and laughed off the fact my coach thought I had an eating disorder.
School sports came next, I ran the worst races I had run in years. Literally. My sports teacher who was friends with my coach came to ask me if I was alright and I broke into tears, so disappointed in myself.
I talked to my Mum on the phone and she said she had booked me an appointment with the sports nutritionist, that maybe I was anaemic.
I had blood tests that confirmed I did have iron-deficiency anaemia and visited the sports nutritionist a few months later. For some reason I had put on a kg and starved myself the week before, only eating at dinner and breakfast when Mum was around and purging at night. I'm not sure why I felt the need to loose weight when it could give away my eating disorder, but I couldn't bear to stand on the scales with others around.
She weighed me in at 59.5kg with a HUGE jacket and multiple layers of winter clothing. Apparently, this made me pretty thin in her books and although she didn't say I needed to loose weight, she set me a food plan significantly different to what I had told her I was eating before, what my Mum thought I was eating. She explained to me that it was vital I stick to it if I ever wanted to run well again and even though my head was screaming at me, I reluctantly followed it.
I tried as hard as I could not to add up the calories in my head and was actually successful on most days. 2 weeks later, I weighed myself again, a huge difference to the multiple times a day weigh ins I used to do. I weighed 51.5kgs and was disgusted with myself. I cried and cried and was in a horrible mood for days. I kept complaining to my Mum, my training
Partners and my best friend who all told me it was the amount they ate on an everyday basis.
One night it all got to much and while talking to Mum I burst into tears, she asked me why I hated my new diet so much and after a while I admitted it was because of my extreme fear of gaining weight.
She told me that she used to suffer from bulimia and that if I wanted to get healthy, I needed to stick it out. Mum asked if I wanted to talk to somebody, but I wanted to tackle it myself.
After telling her I'd put on weight and having another good cry Mum emailed my nutritionist who told us she'd be worried if I hadn't put on weight.
She reminded me that I'm now drinking over 2L of water a day, there's 2 kg already. My muscle tone that I'd destroyed is also starting to come back, muscle weighs more than fat so it's only natural I'd be more 'heavy' but not 'fat'. Also, the food I eat is in my stomach, Undigested or being digested so the weight of that adds to the number on the scales too. Mum gave me some advice, 'Your a smart girl,' said, 'Think about it logically and you'll realize your better off for it.'
Most days I handle things alright, I can stand to look in the mirror at my stomach in the morning before food but after that I'm still disgusted at how I look. I try not to weigh myself anymore like the nutritionist told me to, but somedays I can't help it and 2 days ago I weighed 51.8kgs. I have my bad days, where I cry and plan ways to skip out on my meal plan but usually cant stick to it because I'm getting used to the food I have to eat and give into the hunger when I don't have it. I'm still scared about gaining weight and the fact that even though I'm physically getting better, my head will always be against my body.
I ran a time trial the other day, and my coach was impressed with the time a ran (I'm not sure whether Mum told him about my ED). Things are getting better, or that's what I'm trying to drill into my head anyway. I still haven't gotten my period, after 7 months of it being abesent, which worries everyone a bit but I'm sure it will be back in no time (greaaaaat! Not!) I'm thinking about asking Mum to make an appointment with a counsellor to help me overcome my own mind and I have a lot of hope that I will get better. It's still early days and I'm not sure what will happen when athletics season starts again and I once again have to expose my body in my athletics uniforms among girls, many of whom stuggle with what I do. But for now, I'm healthy and I'm starting to run better again, the results I'm seeing are proving my brain wrong and I know that if I stay strong (like I write on my left wrist every morning) I'll beat EDNOS completely